Effects of excessive convergence

When we're being creative, inventive or expressive, there are two ways to go. We can be convergent and "get it right". We can be divergent and "do our thing". The world is mostly convergent. We are usually pressured to conform to a consensus. We get judged, criticized and set-up to "get it right" by authorities. We find out when we are in trouble, deviating from best practices and getting too weird.

Too much convergence takes it toll on our creativity. We don't lose it, as Sir Ken Robinson repeatedly observes. Our creativity simply becomes stifled, inhibited, and repressed. We censor our inspirations and shoot down possibilities that come to mind. We get writer's block, mental constipation or hung-up on what's expected. Our minds go into vicious cycles, closed circuits and perpetual reactions to the problem we're having. We cannot get creative no matter how hard we try inside the problem of "no creativity coming to mind".

When we've become overly convergent, we have nothing more to say, write or contribute. We drop out of community participation or we stop blogging -- problems that Michele Martin has been pondering this week. We may fall behind schedule on a creative project as Dan Roddy shared with us yesterday.

There are several viable strategies for getting creative again:
  • Write the worst thing possible to get your juices flowing again. Express what is certainly disgraceful, unacceptable and sure to ruin everything. Then trash that and start over with a clear mind and lots of fresh energy.
  • Disrupt further thinking about it by disengaging the mind. Go for a walk, swim, movie, music break or nap. Call a time out to get the issue to simmer on a back burner. Make no further progress until you receive a "dawning inspiration" in a twilight state of mind between waking and dreaming.
  • Switch to innocence and a sense of wonder. Stop knowing what to do and start not-knowing how to proceed as Dan did. Be amazed that no solution has occurred to you. Become fascinated about what you're overlooking, preventing from appearing or filtering out of your awareness.
  • Apply a metaphor to the problem. Turn it into something related: broken machines, muddy pigs, endless wars, useless junk food, natural disaster areas, etc. See the similarities, get a different perspective, change the definition of the problem. Then modify the metaphor and see what that says about the problem: fixed machine, clean pig, end of war, gourmet food, disaster relief, etc.
Once we've restored our creativity, we're open to needing both convergence and divergence. We need to get inspired and evaluate the worth of those inspirations. We have uses for going wild and for getting good at what we do. We see the benefits in careful improvements and careless explorations. We keep the two in balance and naturally avoid getting overly convergent.

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